Public service careers — from teaching in an economically disadvantaged area to working in a community health clinic and everything in between — attract individuals who want to dedicate their working lives to helping others. While these careers provide many personal rewards, they may not provide the same financial rewards as other more lucrative careers. For this reason, students interested in pursuing public service or teaching careers often choose not to do so because of concerns about debt burden relative to anticipated income.
Federal loan forgiveness programs, such as the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program (TLFP) and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLFP), can lighten or eliminate that potential debt burden and encourage students to entertain a wider variety of career options.
Under the TLFP, Federal Stafford and Federal Direct loan borrowers who teach for five consecutive, complete years at an eligible school may qualify to have up to $5,000 ($17,500 for certain highly qualified secondary math and science teachers, and elementary and secondary special education teachers) of their loan balance forgiven.
Through the PSLFP, borrowers may qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance due on their eligible Federal Direct loan(s) after they have made 120 monthly payments on that loan(s) under an eligible repayment plan(s) while employed full time in eligible public service occupations.
A tool for recruitment and retention
Although loan forgiveness programs typically benefit students several years after graduation, they are an important tool that schools can use when counseling prospective students during the admissions and financial aid process. For students interested in pursuing lower paying but rewarding careers like teaching and public service, providing information on loan forgiveness programs can help reduce apprehensions associated with borrowing to finance their education.
Furthermore, loan forgiveness programs provide students with additional incentive to complete their program of study in order to qualify for the debt relief they offer, and thus have the potential to increase retention and completion rates.
Schools that make information on loan forgiveness programs available to their students at the earliest stages of their enrollment may realize benefits for both the student and the school. To assist schools in counseling students who are considering a public service or teaching career, TG provides detailed information on eligibility requirements, the application process, and more for both the TLFP and the PSLFP on TG Online.
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